In the DO Archivo General de la Nación

DO AGN 2016-08-23 10.36.39

This is my fifth day at the DO Archivo General de la Nación in Santo Domingo, and I am finding that the curators have been doing a good job digitalizing the bulk of the pre-1930 documentation. Except for a few documents in some of the collections, (i.e., Policía, ayuntamientos, Hipotecas, Apelación, Oficialías, Instrucción, Hacienda), the only other records they claim that have not been placed on-line are the notarial documents, which are a largely untapped window to the early nineteenth century.

A look at the Reading Room (Sala de Investigación)

María Filomena Gonzalez Canalda wrote a book (click here for her article) about these sources to show the potential they had in redefining the way we look at the so-called Unification Period (“Haitian Occupation”) in Dominican History.

2016-08-19 13.05.10

In this 1900 document, the Dominican vice-consul in Mayagüez writes to Santo Domingo informing his superiors of the steamship “Salvador,” which is departing with Puerto Rican migrants to the Dominican Republic. The list of travelers, however, is still missing.


Why We Blog and Vent


Reality_check made a comment in one of fellow blogger Lavern Merriweather’s articles. Here’s what he wrote:

I’m just wondering– aren’t you tired of wasting all this energy complaining, bemoaning and venting about white people? Seriously. All your efforts are in vain because THEY ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE. So I fail to see where all this discussion is heading. What’s the end game here? I’m serious with this question.

Blacks will do better to channel this energy and passion into organizing, and strategizing to either improve our lives, fight back OR dismantle white supremacy. Now THAT’s worth the effort.

Don’t misread what I”m saying here. I detest them as much as any other conscious black person, BUT it’s a distraction for us to constantly focus our energies on THEIR actions instead of our own. What about OUR actions? What can we do?

At the end of the day complaining and…

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Art Exhibition: “Hispaniola: Saga” by Edouard Duval-Carrié

Repeating Islands


“Hispaniola: Saga” by the contemporary master from Haiti, Edouard Duval-Carrié, will open on April 14, 2016, at Lyle O. Reitzel Gallery/Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Catalogue Available. Essay by Edward Sullivan.)

Also see and

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Poetry Out Loud: Wenmimareba Klobah Collins Represents Puerto Rico

On Saturday, March 12, 2016, Wenmimareba Klobah Collins (a 12th-grader from University High School, at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras) was named the Poetry Out Loud champion of Puerto Ri…

Source: Poetry Out Loud: Wenmimareba Klobah Collins Represents Puerto Rico

Judith Butler’s Statement on UC Regents Principles Against Intolerance

In the right direction


Most of the text below was read at the University of California Regents Public Comment session March 23 in San Francisco.  Following public comment, the regents amended the original text of the “Principles Against Intolerance” to which this statement refers. The revised policy was adopted without further debate today by the full board.  The new preamble text reads, “Anti-Semitism, Anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California” (the underlined phrase is the modification). The new language was suggested by the Academic Senate Universitywide Committee on Academic Freedom (UCAF); its recommendation to modify “other forms of discrimination” to “other forms of unlawful discrimination” seems not to have been taken up.

I agree with Professor Butler that the amended language does not resolve the academic freedom problems associated with the statement.  Moreover, I also think that John Wilson’s comment to a previous post on…

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Microsoft’s AI millennial chatbot became a racist jerk after less than a day on Twitter

Though it was prodded, the rapid development of this bot into a “racist jerk” says tons about our “post-racial” society.

Source: Microsoft’s AI millennial chatbot became a racist jerk after less than a day on Twitter

Detained: Perspectives on the U.S. Immigrant Detention System

Full schedule this evening with awesome activities related to DREAMS @Dream_RC and #blacklivesmatter

The Critical Historian

This is the description of today’s activity for the DREAM-related week.

Join Tech DREAMers as we host a panel about the U.S. immigrant detention system. Bringing together different perspectives, this panel will be made up of Laura Sanders, a local artist from Blacksburg whose work focuses on detention centers in the American Southwest; Marybeth Onyeukw, a Black undocumented immigrant rights activist from Washington D.C.; and Dr. Rebecca Hester, a professor in Virginia Tech’s Science and Technology in Society Department whose work focuses on issues of health faced by undocumented immigrants in the U.S.2016-03-21 18.39.28.jpg

Related Tweets:

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Funlayo Alabi Tackles Female Poverty in Northern Nigeria With Skin Care Company Shea Radiance


Shea Radiance CEO Funlayo Alabi (photo via

article by Hadassah Egbedi via

Besides passion, a common reason often given by entrepreneurs when asked why, or how they started their businesses often entails discovering a gap in the market, which is often in the process of trying to solve a problem of their own. The background story of Funlayo Alabi, CEO of Shea Radiance, is not any different.

Mrs Alabi currently runs a multi-million dollar skin care company from her kitchen, one she started by chance. Her son was suffering from severe eczema, so she sought a more natural alternative to deal with it. “We had him on steroids. I thought to myself, “This boy is going to live on steroids if I don’t find a more natural alternative,” she told Inc. Alabi who hadn’t been a fan of shea butter as a kid, reluctantly called…

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Notes on reading Black agency in Guatemala: dismantling Black slavery while upholding White supremacy?

From my research site:

Caribbean & Atlantic Bibliographies

Blacks and Blacksness.jpgFront Cover

In “Becoming free, becoming Ladino,” Catherine Komisaruk argues that the Guatemalan Blackslavery crumbled before the 1824 dramatic emancipation. Though she acknowledged the arguments of other historians pointing to external causes (from the Haitian Revolution to the emancipation of the Spanish-American colonies), she relies more on internal and gradual developments to explain slavery’s demise.

“By the late eighteenth century slavery in Guatemala was increasingly unsustainable. Slaves were availing themselves of legal institutions and social structures to unravel their enslavement, and as the numbers of people of African descent are in free society, so too did the possibilities of slave liberation. Kingship and social networks, as well as passing unstopped into free society, continued as primary mechanisms of emancipation, while the state and reigning social ideologies persisted in legitimizing manumissions… The emancipation law of 1824 essentially ratified a long-term social transformation that was already almost complete.”


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Qué lastima que me lo perdí!


Es cierto que la RD ha carecido históricamente de un fuerte Movimiento Afro que estudie, que trabaje, que visibilice el vivir actual e histórico de los afro-dominicanos/as, mayoría en ésta media isla, más éste país parió al poeta Blas Jiménez, un importante poeta de la Negritude que se escribió:

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Mofongo and Puerto Rico as a Culinary Revelation

I somehow knew deep inside that I was eating history, I mean, serious and sophisticated history!

Repeating Islands


Ben Vaughn (The Daily Meal) writes that, in his search for the best mofongo, he discovered Puerto Rico as a culinary revelation, for food both traditional and contemporary. He explores restaurants in the wider San Juan area and Cayey—El Jibarito, Old San Juan; Zest Restaurant, San Juan Water Beach Hotel; Mi Casa by José Andrés, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; Chicharrón, Placita de Santurce, San Juan; Lechonera Los Pinos, Cayey; Budatai Condado, San Juan; and Budatai in the Condado district of San Juan—learning a great deal about the flavors and textures of the island’s cuisine:

[. . .] In Miami, you have obvious Cuban influences, but also Haitian cuisine, food from Trinidad & Tobago, and all throughout the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico.

During my years living in Miami, I’ve had the opportunity to try them all. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and participate in their…

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People who skim online articles are just as cultured as book snobs

Here is a challenge: read this short article entirely. Perhaps we can prove the author wrong. Otherwise, we might just become a world populated by people with ADD.

How this should affect the way we teach? Students are happier with shorter readings.


At the end of last year, Slate published its “Year of Outrage“—a series of essays contemplating the endless churn of transient media stories and subsequent outrage.

It also reiterated a long-standing suspicion that the internet has shortened our attention spans and made us more frivolous and foolish. The internet, we fear, is robbing us of deep thought; it’s turning us into facile meme spouters and skimming link clickers.

That’s what Nicholas Carr argued five years ago in his (somewhat ironically) much-memed book The Shallows, and we’ve only become more obsessively superficial since. Social media encourages us to tweet knowledge in 140 character bursts, turning complex tapestries of ideas into easily digested nuggets: lol, u mad Carr?

“Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy,” Carr wrote. “That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages…

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30 Reasons it’s Smart to Hire a History Student

Great list


When my co-op advisor asked how my current job relates to my History degree, I didn’t know what to tell her. Not because the job doesn’t relate to my studies–it does. Almost everything does, if you ask me. On the transferable skill side, there is just so, so much.

As I sit at the tail end of my History and Communications double major, resume full of business-friendly internships and experiences, I can’t help but notice how underrated the History half of my education seems to be. It has helped me thrive in so many work worlds–from the public service, to high tech marketing, to education and tourism. It’s time we stopped overlooking the History degree.

Here are 30 reasons why.

  1. History students are experts at tracking trends. They know how people, strategies, and time-stamped statistics work (or don’t work).
  2.  …and, yes, they know how to communicate that information back.

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CALACS 2015—Deadline Extended

Not a bad place for a conference!

Repeating Islands

615x200-ehow-images-a06-jm-gn-pan-americanism_-800x800 The 34th CALACS Congress, organized by the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), the School of Social Sciences at the University of Costa Rica, and the Latin American Social Sciences Institute (FLACSO), will take place at will take place at the University of Costa Rica,San Jose, Costa Rica, from July 8 to 10, 2015. The theme this year is Critical Pan-Americanisms: Solidarity, Resistance, Territories. The submissions deadline has been extended to April 30, 2015.

Description: Pan-Americanism has a long and complicated history.  As concepts, ideas, discourses, possibilities, and dreams, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism appear and vanish, are defined and re-defined, and are accepted and rejected by different actors in different historical moments. South of the Río Grande, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism formed part of Símon Bolívar’s thought.  Later, between 1880 and 1890, the terms Pan-America and Pan-Americanism appeared in the United States, extending the territory northwards.  Henceforth, Pan-Americanism became part of…

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The people at the Gilder Lehrman Institute are doing wonderful things! I wish I could be closer. Foner’s work cannot be more timely.

El Imperio de Calibán


Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

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A Tale of Two Governors

No more flowery Puerto Rican past.

Santa Barbara of Samaná, 1869: the imperial gaze.

I am also finding my hard-drive swelling with illustrations which I cannot yet use in publications.  Hopefully, by sharing them here, these historical documents will soon find themselves useful to others.  The picture below, which appeared in the Harper’s Weekly (1869), in the eve of the 1870-71 Annexation Treaty with the U.S., illustrates a couple of lines I wrote in my book’s epilogue:

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Samaná shifted in the world’s imagination from a presqu’île with a useful gulf to a bay with a funky peninsula attached to it. This conceptual turn was the work of the Atlantic print culture (blogosphere) becoming progressively fascinated with the Samaná harbor. Foreigners invoked the term “Samaná Bay” even when they had the peninsula in mind, referring to it as an exceptional harbor that shortsighted Dominicans were ready to trade for temporary debt-relief.

Santa Barbara of Samaná, 1869.

Santa Barbara of Samaná, 1869.

The main purpose of this picture was to sell a particular image of Samaná to the public in the United States.

Notice that the view comes from the hill behind to the little town of Santa Barara of Samaná, and that the little cozy harbor lacks the walking bridge that today connects the islets. Like with any conqueror’s depiction, the purpose is not to highlight the human element, but to bring attention to natural resources. The obvious fertility is to show potential U.S. investors and speculators that their crops would yield good returns.  The little harbor here appears larger than what it really was (since then, it has been prepared for larger ships).  The message was that it would welcome all types of ships.  The people’s houses (or huts) are almost invisible because the fewer the better: more space for new buildings and northern settlers wanting to exploit the region’s natural resources.

The Privilege of Not Caring

Pretty good post about the supposed “Come back” of a White Disney fan: It’s also about positioning white as default, which is what happens when you look at the Disney princess line-up.”

C.M. Spivey

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year educating myself about privilege, especially my own privilege as a white cis woman. There’s still a lot I need to do to branch out and keep learning, but I feel like I do an alright job of checking my privilege.

I’m not often presented with opportunities to discuss privilege with other white people, so when such situations do arise I try to take advantage of them. I’d be lying if I said it turns out well most or even some of the time. It’s a rare person who accepts challenge gracefully. I am certainly not one of those people myself–I usually need an hour or two, sometimes longer, before I’m able to admit that the other person was right.

To the story. On Facebook the other day, an acquaintance shared a link to this image:

Click to view full size Click to view full size

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Choices’s Course on the Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution: The Choices Program., a course.Possibly some of you knew of this resource already. I have seen it before too, but today I stopped and looked at it more carefully after browsing tens of pages of documents purporting to summarize, sketch or introduce students to the topic of the Haitian Revolution.  I found it useful.

It was published five years ago under the auspices of the Choice Program and Brown University.  It is copyrighted, and the document is protected indeed.  Email the company if you plan to use it in the classroom.

It is formatted with lesson plans similar to those used in high School. So, I suppose it could be used there too.  But I looked at it with eyes for using it in an undergraduate course. In addition to the student text, it has the instructor’s guidebook, which comes with all sort of teaching aids: lists of terms, timelines, quizzes, exams, etc.

Of the online resources I have seen claiming to help you teach the history of the Haitian Revolution (product of the Haitian Turn, perhaps), this one stands out (while in another formats: “The Other Revolution” and Alyssa G. Sepinwall’s Introduction are also useful).

The booklet credits the following individuals:

Anthony Bogues. Harmon Family Professor, Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science, Brown University

Donald Cosentino, Professor of Culture and Performance, University of California, Los Angeles

Alex Dupuy, Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University

Sharon Larson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of French, Providence College

Katherine Smith, University of California, Los Angeles

Patrick Sylvain, Visiting Lecturer in Latin American Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies., Brown University

Special thanks to Kana Shen, Brown University ’10, for her assistance in developing and writing this unit.

Cover image and maps by Alexander Sayer Gard-Murray. A section of the cover image is from the painting “Dessalines Ripping the White from the Flag” by Madsen Monpremier. Photograph by Denis Nervig, Fowler Museum at UCLA.

The Haitian Revolution is part of a continuing series on international public policy issues. New units are published each academic year and all units are updated regularly.

Puerto Ricans Need to Stop Living Like Kings and Learn to Work in Sweatshops

An urgent read about Puerto Rico’s maladies and Bloomberg’s problematic article. It is short and necessary.

in cOHERENT Thoughts

An article in BloombergView, condescendingly entitled Helping Puerto Rico Prosper, pretends to offer a solution to the island’s economic maladies. Of course it has gone viral. The article presents a laundry list of what is ailing Puerto Rico while slowly but surely making a nuanced case for right wing economics. Here is the laundry list.

• Since 2006, Puerto Rico’s economy has contracted every year but one.

• Its unemployment rate of 13.7 percent is double that of the U.S. mainland.

• Its poverty rate is twice that of Mississippi.

• Puerto Rico’s population and tax base have aged and shrunk.

• Since 2000, public debt has risen from 60 percent of gross domestic product to more than 100 percent.

• Much of that has been racked up by the island’s inefficient public-sector corporations.

After presenting these well-known facts, the article argues for deregulation- of the worse kind. It…

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